Max Verstappen thinks Mercedes will be the main threat to Red Bull‘s dominance for the 2023 Formula 1 season.
After winning a controversial season-long battle with Lewis Hamilton in 2021, the Dutchman captured his second successive world championship at a canter in 2022, but he expects a stouter challenge from the Brackley-based outfit when racing resumes in Bahrain.
“It’s difficult to say, even at the end of the year look like sometimes they had it together and then sometimes not,” Verstappen said at the launch of Red Bull‘s 2023 challenger.
“So from my side, it’s difficult to say because I’m not part of the team [to know] if they fully understand everything, but I guess we’ll find out.
“But yeah, for sure they will be a main our main rival, but also I think Ferrari will be strong. How strong, it’s difficult to say.
“But Mercedes has shown, of course, over the last few years that they’ve always been really, really strong. And they have a good group of people as well.
“But I trust in my people in Milton Keynes that they can build a very strong car as well together with our engine as well. I hope that we again have a strong package against them.”
Will Verstappen complete the three-peat?
There’s no doubt Verstappen and Red Bull begin the 2023 campaign as clear favourites to capture another double, despite the reduction in wind tunnel time as a result of breaching the budget cap in 2021.
Should the Dutchman make it three in a row, he will join an exclusive club of only four other drivers – Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – to achieve such a feat.
However, when asked about the prospect of creating yet more history, Verstappen appeared unperturbed, admitting he hasn’t even looked at the car he’ll be driving yet.
“I’m not even thinking about these things at the moment,” Verstappen added. “It’s more important that we just focus on having a competitive car. And then if we have a competitive car, you know, these things can happen.
“We just make sure that the car is running well and has no issues and is quick at the end of the day.
“I haven’t seen it [the car]. I’ve only spoken about the performance upgrades in terms of lap time, but I haven’t seen any pictures or renders because I’m not interested in these kinds of things.”